March 26th, 2020.
The World Health Organization issued a formal statement answering Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, questioning his intentions of relaxing all quarantine decisions implemented so far. Brazilian Health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta declared he will not leave his office, and declared his opposition to Bolsonaro’s intention of turning the current social distancing measures to a vertical isolation one. According to him, quarantine measures are a “bitter pill” which Brazilians will have to swallow during this period. At least five different states have experienced anti-Bolsonaro protests, with people banging pots and pans at their windows while the president made his COVID-19-related statements. Finally, the government of Iran, one of the most affected countries in the world by the novel coronavirus, has rejected foreign assistance, fearing any foreign interference.
Take a look at our highlights.
WHO responds to Bolsonaro’s speech and says its focus is to “save lives”
The World Health Organization was questioned yesterday on Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s opinion concerning the novel coronavirus pandemic. After Bolsonaro defended the end of all social distancing during a TV address, WHO general director Tedros Ghebreyesus said it was up to political authorities the role of fighting the threat: “We have been saying for months, this virus is our public enemy number one.” Meanwhile, the president of the Brazilian Infectology Society, Clóvis Arns da Cunha, said that Bolsonaro’s plan to implement “vertical isolation” would only be appropriate after the country reached a descending number in a curved graph showing the number of infected people.
Health minister says he will remain, and only leave if president orders it
Brazilian Health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta declared at a press conference held yesterday that he has no intention of leaving his post, one day after president Jair Bolsonaro made a public announcement condemning the social distancing currently set in place by the ministry, with the support of governors and ministers. Anticipating himself to questions asked by journalists, Mandetta began the interview by stating that “they have speculated the minister will quit… I’ll make it clear: I’ll only quit whenever I believe I should no longer be working, or when the president, who appointed me, decides to let me go, or whenever I find that, once this turbulent period is over and I can no longer be useful.” He added, “for now, I will work as best as I can. My whole team is focused, and we will work following technical criteria, always.”
Quarantine is a “bitter pill” that Brazil “will have to swallow”, says Mandetta
Brazilian Health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta declared during a press conference held on Wednesday evening that there are several elements which justify a countrywide quarantine in Brazil. Mandetta, however, pondered whether a simultaneous measure should be applied throughout the country, and said that such measures should be applied in synchronicity with governors and mayors: “If we are to begin this process, if we are to begin this curve, we need to be extremely calm, since quarantine is an extremely bitter pill, an extremely tough one. But one which we will eventually have to swallow.”
At least five states record anti-Bolsonaro protests
On Wednesday evening, another night of pot and pan banging, the so-called “panelaços”, was witnessed in several Brazilian state capitals. Demonstrators are punctually demonstrating their dissatisfaction with the government in several neighborhoods throughout the country, between 8 and 8:30 p.m. Protests have been registered, along with cursing and expletives, from windows in several São Paulo neighborhoods, along with other regions of Brasília, Salvador, Porto Alegre, Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, and Londrina.
Iran rejects humanitarian aid
The Iranian government has officially rejected any humanitarian aid, despite facing one of the worst novel coronavirus outbreaks in the world. According to the Iranian Ministry of Health, one person is dying every 10 minutes in the country. Last Sunday, the non-governmental organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF), announced it was sending an inflatable hospital with 50 beds and a nine-people crew to Isfahan, the second-most affected province in the country. The country rejected all foreign aid, claiming they belonged to “a network of spies”. According to Alireza Vahabzadeh, a Health ministry official, the Islamic Republic has many recently-built hospitals, yet to be used. “We have empty beds and full capacity. So, at this stage, we don’t need this help,” he said.